Irish trainers entertain real hope of Guineas doubles in France
Poetic Flare and Mother Earth both in action at Longchamp on Sunday
Kevin Manning has travelled to France to ride Poetic Flare in Sunday’s French 2,000 Guineas. Photograph: Peter Mooney/Inpho
A turbulent transatlantic Classic weekend could wind up producing Irish success in Paris on Sunday.
The evergreen partnership of Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning have a breakthrough French Classic success in their sights as the Newmarket 2,000 Guineas hero Poetic Flare bids to pull off a rare double in Longchamp’s equivalent, the €600,000 Poule D’Essai des Poulains (off at 2.50 Irish-time.)
Afterwards Aidan O’Brien’s Newmarket 1,000 Guineas winner Mother Earth is likely to start favourite to achieve a similar feat in the French version of the fillies’ Classic due off at 3.25.
Bookmakers believe Poetic Flare’s big rival is the O’Brien-trained St Mark’s Basilica who has a late replacement rider in Ioritz Mendizabal.
Last year’s champion juvenile had originally been due to be ridden by France’s top jockey Pierre Charles Boudot who earlier this week was charged with rape. He denies assaulting a woman at a party in February.
On Friday night, France Galop, French racing's ruling boy, suspended Boudot from riding for the next three months as a "precautionary measure." It said it took the move due to the seriousness of the allegations as well as "implications to the betting market."
Before the latest European Classics, US racing is once again facing the prospect of making more disastrous headlines over drugs ahead of Saturday night’s $1 million Preakness Stakes.
The second leg of the Triple Crown takes place in Baltimore with the sport mired in controversy after the positive drug test returned by the Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit.
The colt tested positive for the steroid betamethasone after his success at Churchill Downs two weeks ago and faces possible disqualification.
Trainer Bob Baffert has attributed the outcome to Medina Spirit being treated for dermatitis with an antifungal ointment containing the substance on the run up to the race.
If the amount of the prohibited raceday drug is small – and another of America’s top trainers, D Wayne Lukas, has said it is so tiny it should have been poured down the laboratory sink – it’s reputational reverberations have been colossal.
Nevertheless, after passing a series of pre-race drug tests, both Medina Spirit, and his stable companion Concert Tour will line up for the Preakness at 11.47 Irish-time.
Baffert could secure a record eighth win in the race but on the back of his latest doping blunder won’t be at the Pimlico track as he says he doesn’t want to cause “a distraction”.
It looks a mostly futile gesture in circumstances that put US racing authorities in something of a no-win situation however Medina Spirit fares.
Ironically the blameless colt at the centre of the controversy had briefly served as a feelgood story since he had been bought for just $1,000 as a yearling before achieving millionaire status in the Derby.
The potential for a fairytale Classic outcome is also there in Sunday’s French 1,000 Guineas, the Poule D’Essai des Pouliches, when Miss Amulet joins Mother Earth in a 14-runner field.
Curragh trainer Ken Condon has also booked Mendizabal for a filly who cost just €7,500 as a yearling.
Miss Amulet’s unlikely rise to fame, winning the Lowther Stakes last year and being placed in the Cheveley Park and at the Breeders’ Cup, was one of the stories of 2020.
Lining up in the French Guineas rather than stretching her stamina at Newmarket has been Condon’s long-term plan although an outside stall 13 draw is a late snag he could have done without.
In contrast Mother Earth is going to break from an ideal stall four.
Mother Earth will try to become just the fifth filly to complete the English-French 1,000 Guineas double.
The last to manage it was Special Duty in 2010 when she had unlikely distinction of winning both races in the stewards’ room having been second past the post at both Newmarket and Longchamp.
Manning is permitted to travel from Ireland to ride Poetic Flare who is aiming to become the first horse in over 80 years to land both the English and French 2,000 Guineas.
He too has a stall four draw in the 12-runner field as Bolger and Manning chase a first French Classic.
The bulk of the home defence warmed up over the course and distance last month when Policy Of Truth won the ‘Fontainebleau’ from Sealiway, Summiter, Normandy Bridge and Parchemin.